SmallPaws44

I don't post very often as my life is a bit topsy turvy since learning of the affair, which was this last December (he told me himself).

I didn't have a clue about the affair, which is probably because we lived separately due to the military. Our marriage wasn't perfect and I had been suffering from depression for a long time due to some pretty traumatic events in our lives. I'd been going to individual therapy to work through a lot of my own stuff so I could feel better and move on. In any case, his affair was purely sexual and lasted about 2 weeks and there was quite a bit of time in the fog (another two weeks I would say, which I know for some of you isn't a long time but it felt like an eternity to me). However, from what I understand from both of them, the affair was actually already over. She ended it and told him to go "sort his head out."

In any case, he spent time away at his barracks and realised that he'd made a huge mistake and decided he wanted to save our marriage. This is what I wanted from the beginning but I spent a lot of time focused on him to help him navigate why he did what he did and the like. I didn't take much time to really focus on myself. I was devastated and am still picking up the pieces but as this behaviour was so out of character for him, I focused on him. We have been in counselling and they are no contact and he has no desire to contact her. Our physical relationship has started again and it is good except for when the AP shows up in my head. This bit is only happening to me and has started to be a regular occurrence. I've spoken to my husband about this and other fears and worries that I have. He is kind, understanding, and fairly compassionate. He is really trying. Now he has been posted to another area; however, this time I have joined him because our house has been declared unsafe by our local authority and we are suing our neighbours to repair an ongoing issue that has damaged our house to a huge extent.

I have major issues with being a military wife and he was due to leave, which is why we bought that house. However, the issues with the house have kept him in longer than either of us wanted. Now, I am living in a horrible area (it is a dump) and I work from home. I've been ripped away from the life I knew, and for the most part loved, and I feel very adrift. I feel a lot of shame for staying with him and trying to make this work. He has what he wants: his wife and dogs with him full-time but I feel like I've just sacrificing everything. We've been in the new place for nearly two weeks and I've done my best to make it feel like home but it just isn't. This is hopefully very temporary so I'm hesitant to build a life I'll just be ripped away from. I'm lonely. He is doing what he can to rebuild this marriage but I feel like it isn't enough. I feel like I've sacrificed what happiness I had (although, I do realise that I have no control because of our house situation and that bothers me even more) and am now living exactly the life I never wanted for myself. I feel like I am going through the motions. My heart isn't in this but it isn't totally out of it either. He seems happy and content and I just want to rage and throw things. But I don't. 

In the last few days, I've felt myself withdraw. I don't text him during the day because I just don't have anything to say. I don't say or do much to connect in the evenings when he is home. It just feels like too much work. I'm miserable. I don't know if it is the marriage, the new circumstances I find myself in, or general apathy. Or perhaps, all of it. I know I constantly worry about what his friends that know think of me. Do they think I deserved it? That I was a horrible wife or a horrible person in general? Am I being an idiot for staying?

I find myself fantasising about being single and free. Not about dating as that just seems horrible but rather being free to make my own choices and to feel like I'm living the life I chose rather than the life that has been chosen for me by forces outside my control.

I also don't even look at him the same anymore. He used to be my safe space. The one I turned to when times got really tough. Now, he's what caused the worst thing in my life right now. I don't trust him. 

I desperately want to forgive him as I know he isn't a horrible person. I know he made a mistake and I can see his humanity. Yet, I don't think I can stay. Right now, staying feels like saying what he did was okay. There are no consequences for him. Just for me. I have to feel worthless, disrespected, unattractive, and unloveable. He is trying to make me feel the opposite of that but it just doesn't feel right. The counsellor told me to "fake it until I make it" but I just don't work that way. I need to feel like I am working towards something better but all I feel right now is empty. Adrift. Lost.

He is doing the right things and I am so sad that it isn't enough for me. Maybe I am just one of those people who can't stay once the damage is done. I'm usually so forgiving, empathetic, and compassionate. But with this issue, I can have all the empathy and compassion in the world (and I actually do) but it isn't helping me. It is just leaving me empty. Maybe it is way too early in all of this for me to consider cutting and running but right now, that is what feels right.

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Searching4
SmallPaws44,

I'm so very sorry that you are here. I know the shock and despair that you feel. Of course you are unsure about what you want and need right now. It is all so new and horrible. So many of us felt we had to make decisions and sort things out as quickly as possible, but you don't. You have a husband who wants to reconcile. Let him carry the load for awhile and let him learn what he needs to do. You can take your time before you decide, because it will take a very long time to recover whether you stay or go. Give yourself a break and focus on you, what you want and what you need. It will take months before you can have a really clear idea. There is no shame in staying or leaving.

You don't mention any children. I'm relived for you. Let him prove himself to you and show that he is worthy.
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SmallPaws44
Thank you for your reply, Searching4. No, we don't have any children. It is something I think I want but then I have times that I'm not so sure. Our lives have been ridiculously traumatic over our nearly 9 year marriage so I worry about the effect of that on a child if it continues. None of this trauma was our fault and was strictly life swirling around us and catching us up but it has been really painful and contributed to my depression a great deal. It just feels like I can't catch a break and that my life just has to be a constant struggle just to survive the day-to-day. 

I think I'm just feeling like maybe the best thing for me is to go and to move on with my life and to find happiness for myself. I'm not sure that happiness will be within this marriage as I think I will always see him differently now. That isn't fair to either of us, in my opinion. But, I feel so adrift that perhaps making a major decision is a bit silly.
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Searching4
It certainly is not a time to make a major decision. And you are right, you must find your happiness within you. Other people can add to that, but we must be happy within ourselves first.

This is a major turning point for you, no matter what you decide. You have been given a chance for a 'do-over' with or without your marriage. Pamper yourself with the gift of time. You will know when you will know.

You certainly deserve a break, and you sound intelligent and strong. Wishing you a better future.
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SmallPaws44
I'm afraid I already know that this isn't the right place for me but I don't want to hurt him. I think he really wants our marriage and I'm afraid to tell him that I don't think I do. That I don't know if I want it or if I don't want it. I'm ambivalent. All I really know for sure is that I'm really unhappy. I don't feel emotionally safe in my marriage and I don't trust my husband. It is all due to the affair. The very short-lived affair. 

I do love him very much but this has crushed me. I understand why it happened but I don't understand how he could let it happen. The counsellor told me I needed to sit in my pain for awhile so I can come to terms with it and understand it before I move through it.  It is this that I am finding so difficult. 


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Heidi
Smallpaws44, you sound like you are in a lot of pain, and I can really empathise with that. Your counsellor sounds wise, sadly we have to go through the pain in order to then start rebuilding ourselves and become stronger. It's a long process, and sadly one you can't rush.

To me it sounds as though your worries about making a decision and your guilt at the effect this may have on your husband are compounding your pain. I went through the same thing, and can remember feeling that unless I made a decision right away, I was as bad as him.

But the problem is you're in no fit state to make a decision about your future. A wise person told me that it's okay to maintain the status quo while you are working on yourself, and to not make a decision about the future of your marriage until you are ready. When it was me, I sat down with my husband and explained how I was feeling. Although hurt, he also said he would wait for me, and do everything he could to support that healing. And to his credit he did, and in doing so, my trust in him has slowly been able to return.

I'm not sure if that helps, but please don't beat yourself up about not knowing. If you decide to walk away from your marriage, that's a perfectly sound, valid decision, but make sure you're ready to take it. Otherwise, communicate, be open and share your pain with your husband. He has his role to play in this too.
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Anna26
Smallpaws, Heidi is right, you don't need to rush into any decisions.  And even if you are feeling now that you have had enough and want out of the marriage, be aware that this can change at any given point.  That's because our emotions are fluctuating on a daily basis. 
At first I was walking on eggshells, not knowing how to even bring the subject of the affair up, I've been through anger, pain and grief just like everyone else, but I know that I'm probably not done with all of that yet because he is not living with me.  If he moved home I think that is when the hard work will start for me.
I got to the point too where every little thing I found out convinced me more that there was no point.  Every time he visited us I was reminded of all the things I didn't like about him anyway, things that you normally live with on a daily basis, and things that, because I was no longer used to them, irritated the hell out of me.
I made a momentous decision, and decided I was done, I wanted out, I would be better off on my own with a fresh start and a new future even if I was struggling and on my own, I ranted..

Fast forward a little, and I'm still here, because for now, I am comfortable with the life I have.  We are not totally together, but we get on fairly well, the bills are paid and I have a roof over my head. 
I think I've just accepted things a bit and am thankful for the things I still have instead of grieving over the things I don't. That's been a big step forward for me, but I do know that things could easily change once more.
I am learning to be happy with me, to be content with who I am and where my life is going.  It can be hard because we are so used to leaning on another person, they are our prop, our mainstay and our life normally revolves around them.
But it shouldn't, it should revolve around us, because we have our own lives too, as individuals.  We make us who we want to be, no-one else.

So take your time, sometimes that is all you need for a change to come...
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TimT
SmallPaws44 wrote:
...I desperately want to forgive him as I know he isn't a horrible person. I know he made a mistake and I can see his humanity. Yet, I don't think I can stay. Right now, staying feels like saying what he did was okay. There are no consequences for him. Just for me. I have to feel worthless, disrespected, unattractive, and unloveable. He is trying to make me feel the opposite of that but it just doesn't feel right. The counsellor told me to "fake it until I make it" but I just don't work that way. I need to feel like I am working towards something better but all I feel right now is empty. Adrift. Lost...
Thank you for your post. It reflex a "stuck place" in which many betrayed spouses find themselves. And I think you are right to consider the fact that perhaps the damage is so great that you simply cannot move beyond it. But the counsel of other members to make that decision out of a more settled perspective is good to listen to as well.

I'd like to comment on the "fake it 'til you make it" (FITYMI) principle. As a counselor, I hate that principle... and I love that principle. Whether it is helpful or not completely depends on your motivation for change. 

"Faking" is only PRETENDING if someone feels obligated to make a particular choice (I'm staying in my marriage because it's the right thing to do. I'd feel guilty if I left. Friends/family expect me to stay. I've been taught that divorce is wrong.) If that motivation never shifts, then the faking will always feel forced and artificial. The outcome will either be a joyless acquiescence or an eventual escape from the pressure (often in dramatic and unhealthy ways). 

"Faking" may continue to be PRETENDING if the motive for the choice/behavior is rooted in the expectation of a preferred outcome. (My spouse will want/love me. My marriage will be satisfying. I'll be happier. I'll finally get the "thing" I want.) This person's satisfaction in outcome depends on something outside themselves, and they are not really in control of the factors that determine what their circumstances will end up being. The betrayed spouse who does "all the right things" may still end up with a partner who continues in affair behavior or who never fully engages in restoration/healing on the other side of the betrayal. As long as the betrayed spouse can muster up enough wishful hope for something better to eventually come along, maybe they can keep pretending, but it drains energy and emotions. Eventually, they give up or wear out, unless they are fortunate enough to get that thing they long for.

But I believe there is one motive that changes the experience of FITYMI: "Faking" becomes PRACTICING (not pretending) when a person gains a clear perspective of who they want to become... the story they want to tell with their lives. This vision should not grounded in preferred circumstances, but in the values/characteristics they believe are consistent with being whole & healthy.

That is why the counsel to focus on YOU is so often repeated by those who are posting here. If you turn your focus toward using this experience to explore what you are learning about you and begin to form a clear perspective of who you long to become (with or without your marriage), then you will have a clearer perspective of the direction you should move, the choices you should make, and you will guided by inside-out motivation.

In a marriage, this is a powerful principle. When I am being guided by outside-in motivation (focused on expectations, or approval, or desired circumstances) then my efforts to act out of love are usually quite weak. In fact, I'll usually either hang my head and joylessly "do the right thing" or I'll bail out of the whole process because I'm not getting what I want. But when I'm guided from the inside-out -- when I have a clear perspective of who I want to become and how that man loves others (I see that man is intentionally moving toward others with love and truth) -- then I can act in a way that is consistent with the ideal me even when my stuff (the tendency to shut down or blow up) gets triggered. In my better moments, when I am tuned into that desire, I am saying & doing things that are in contrast to my normal/familiar inclinations to protect myself.

In those moments, I am practicing who I am becoming. When that happens, it is tremendously satisfying in a way that pretending will never be.
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sb13
Smallpaws44, I can completely relate to what you're going through. I was with my WS for 9 years. I asked my WS to leave our home back in November after finding out he's cheated on me two months before, then finding out he had cheated on me with the same woman six years prior. We've been separated ever since. We've attended a few counselling sessions together and he has also attended individual counselling. He has acknowledged his affair and apologized for his betrayal. He has expressed a desire to work things out between us and has promised me the world. Promised to make changes in his behaviour, seeing as the affair wasn't the only issue in our relationship. We don't have any biological children together, we each have a child from a previous relationship. I don't feel a desire to work things out with him. I feel empty when I think of him. I'm actually disgusted with him when I see him in person and view him as a pathetic insecure person that only now that he's hit rock bottom he thinks he will change. I've listened to his empty promises for years and I just don't know if I want to take the time to work on our relationship when in the back of my mind I can't help but feel...I deserve better! So much damage has been done! The lies went on for so long! I sacrificed and gave so much the 9 years I was with him. And in return I was completely disrespected and treated poorly. And yet...there are very brief moments when I think he may be telling me the truth and wonder what would happen if I took him back? Could we ever be happy? I'm still so confused [frown]
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SmallPaws44

Thank you, everyone, for your kind feedback and support. I really do appreciate it.

My husband isn't an emotionally expressive person, in general. This is due to his upbringing and he freely admits that. It is also due to all the tragedy we've experienced in the last few years where we have both lost, unexpectedly, people we were close to (my mother, his father, his brother, my grandfather) and have also experienced the loss of our home due to others destroying it and making it unsafe to live in (this is now a lawsuit as we still own the property). In some ways, he really shows that he wants our marriage and in others, he seems fairly disconnected. I think he can't allow himself to actually feel the depth of the pain he's inflicted. He says he did feel guilt but that he doesn't have any remorse or regret for the actual act but he does have regret/remorse for hurting me so deeply. His reasoning for not regretting the act is because the affair jolted our marriage and gave us both a "wake-up call" and has caused us to speak openly, honestly, and to start reconnecting again (due to external circumstances, we both weren't nurturing the marriage so had become disconnected and distant from one another). He says it is the "best worst thing" to have happened and that he always wanted me but he didn't want the marriage that we had but he didn't know how to express that. He also admits that the act was a mistake. That it was wrong and had no justification and that I didn't deserve what he did.

The lack of remorse/regret for the act haunts me. I feel that it means he'll do it again if things get difficult. He says he never would as he's learned his lesson and that he would never want to hurt me like this ever again but I don't trust that right now. How can he say he'd never do something again if he doesn't regret it? Yet, at the same time, he seems shell-shocked even though the affair ended nearly three months ago was very short-lived and not emotional. He says that he feels like things between us are improving and that it all feels very natural. He still seems to have issues with me at times. I'm still struggling with all of this so I'm not perfect. I have moments where I am short-tempered and feel very raw so I freely admit that I'm not always compassionate. He says I'm an "angry aggressive person" and I probably do seem that way right now. I am angry but a lot of that anger is purely fear of the unknown and feeling very vulnerable and exposed. I try very hard not to be that way but, honestly, we can't always control our most raw emotions.

Last night, as I sobbed in front of him and asked him why he doesn't regret the affair, he just said, "I don't know" and continued drinking his tea. I told him that in order to be in a marriage, he had to value the marriage and me. That he had to be all in and value our relationship. He then said something very revealing. He said, "Every time I value someone, they die." I felt my heart drop as I realised that my very outwardly non-emotional husband is afraid of truly connecting and truly caring for the fear that he would lose me completely. This isn't totally surprising because, well, that is what life has taught us over the last 5 years. When we care about something, we seem to lose it: our family and our home. I told him that if he doesn't value our relationship and me, that he will lose them. He nodded and said that he knew and that he is trying but not exactly in the way I want him to try. That he is trying in his own way and that I need to be patient. I suppose I need to respect that.

It is all terribly confusing.


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Guiltguilt
I was there - not regretting the act, trying to justify what I did. Total rubbish.
i came to realise that there is no justification for stepping out, at all. There are conversations to have, stuff that actually requires testicular fortitude to face.
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